Disorders that affect the heart or blood vessels are called cardiovascular disorders. Cardiovascular disorders are usually divided into
Heart (cardiac) disorders: Heart disorders affect the heart, its valves, and the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle (coronary arteries).
Peripheral blood vessel disorders: Peripheral blood vessel disorders affect the blood vessels of the arms, legs, and trunk (except those supplying the heart).
Disorders that affect the blood vessels supplying the brain are called cerebrovascular disorders. Stroke Overview of Stroke A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures, resulting in death of an area of brain tissue due to loss of its blood supply (cerebral infarction) and symptoms that... read more is an example.
No single symptom unmistakably indicates a heart disorder, but certain symptoms suggest the possibility, and several symptoms together may make the diagnosis almost certain. Doctors identify symptoms by interviewing the person to obtain the medical history and by doing a physical examination Medical History and Physical Examination for Heart and Blood Vessel Disorders The medical history and physical examination can suggest that a person has a heart or blood vessel disorder that requires additional testing for accurate diagnosis. When doctors "take a medical... read more . Often, diagnostic procedures are done to confirm the diagnosis. However, sometimes a heart disorder, even when serious, causes no symptoms until it reaches a late stage. Routine health checkups or a visit to the doctor for another reason may uncover a heart disorder that has caused no symptom. Sometimes doctors do procedures to screen for a heart disorder even when there is no evidence of it.
The symptoms of a heart disorder include
Light-headedness (see Dizziness or Light-headedness When Standing Up Dizziness or Light-Headedness When Standing Up In some people, particularly older people, blood pressure drops excessively when they sit or stand up (a condition called orthostatic or postural hypotension). Symptoms of faintness, light-headedness... read more and Postprandial Hypotension Postprandial Hypotension Postprandial hypotension is an excessive decrease in blood pressure that occurs after a meal. Dizziness, light-headedness, and falls may occur. Doctors measure blood pressure before and after... read more )
However, these symptoms do not necessarily indicate a heart disorder. For example, chest pain may be due to a lung or digestive disorder rather than to a heart disorder. Shortness of breath is often due to a lung disorder. Fatigue can be caused by a wide variety of disorders.
Symptoms of peripheral blood vessel disorders vary depending on where the affected blood vessels are located. Symptoms may include
Change in skin color of the affected part of the body
These symptoms do not necessarily indicate a blood vessel disorder. For example, muscle cramps and muscle fatigue may be due to a disorder of the musculoskeletal system or the nervous system.